In the US state of Maryland, employees at an Apple Store have voted to form a union. At the Towson store, 65 of the 110 employees voted in favour of the union. For years, Apple blocked the efforts of its employees. Now the company’s first union is being established – despite attempts at intimidation. The unions now hope that this will be the impetus for a wave of new formations. A similar wave occurred last year after the creation of the first Starbucks union.
So far, the company has been able to intimidate its employees to the point that they were quick to abandon the few attempts to establish a union. That was the case in Atlanta last month. Because of intimidation, the workforce had stopped its efforts.
But that changed as of last week. In Towson in the U.S. state of Maryland, the employees of an Apple Store prevailed: 65 of the 110 employees voted to establish a union. They are the first retail employees of the Apple Group to be unionized in the USA.
Following this, the employees of the Towson Apple Store will be part of the Machine Builders Union (IAM). Together with the IAM, the employees’ demands for more co-determination in working hours, for appropriate wages and for more safety at work are to be asserted against the corporation.
— Robert Martinez Jr. (@IAMBobMartinez) June 19, 2022
An open letter to Apple boss Tim Cook: Joining the Union is not directed against the Management
In an open letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook, the initiators write that joining the union is not directed against management, it is only a demand for rights they are entitled to by law. There is also broad support among colleagues, he said.
USA President Biden told reporters he was proud of the employees. “The Employees have the right to decide under what conditions they want to work or not work,” Biden continued.
A reaction from Apple is (still) pending
So far, there is no official comment from the corporation. Apple would not comment on the vote when asked by the AP news agency. However, it’s not hard to guess what Apple thinks of the union formation: In May, Apple human resources chief Deirdre O’Brien visited local stores in Towson, near Baltimore. There, O’Brien said forming a union would “complicate” the relationship between Apple and its employees.
Symbolic successes after long slump: Amazon and Starbucks employees established unions
Over the past several decades, the power of unions in the U.S. has been declining. Recently, however, there have been signs of a turning point: there has been a surge of union formations at the Starbucks coffee chain. In December of last year, employees at a Starbucks store formed the company’s first union. This was followed by 150 out of 9,000 US locations also organizing themselves into a union.
Amazon also recently established its first union. However, it did not have the same effect as Starbucks. Amazon is currently taking legal action against the formation.
Apple has around 270 stores in the USA. Although the union formation only affects the store in Towson, the union still hopes for a domino effect similar to Starbucks and Amazon before. At the moment, for example, employees at the Apple Store in New York’s Grand Central station are preparing for a vote to establish a union.
Due to the ever-growing number of union campaigns, Apple announced an increase in the minimum wage from $20 to $22 per hour. Whether this will appease the workforce in the future is questionable.